My good friend and fellow advocate Mike Scott (Prostate Cancer Info Link) introduced me to a new web site produced by the University of Chicago called Cost of Care ( The site is designed around the novel idea that the cost we must pay for our cancer care has become another negative side effect or toxicity that we endure, along with our hair loss, our nausea, our pain and our distress, we suffer as we fight our cancer.

There has been a lot written about the horrendously escalating costs of our cancer medications, many of which have been artificially increased only as a result of the greed of some pharmaceutical companies. An example is a company, Valeant Pharmaceuticals whose business model is to buy other pharmaceutical companies and simply jack up the price of the treatment. They do not add any value, they do not make the drug or treatment better, all they do is raise the cost to the consumer, the insurance company and to society.

In some instances the high costs of cancer treatment is understandable. For the companies that take the significant risks involved in the research and development (R&D) of new drugs, the costs of their clinical trials and then the marketing of the approved product, it is reasonable for these companies to cover their financial risks, their investments and then to make a profit.

The bottom line is that our treatments are very expensive, they are getting more expensive, our co-pays and deductibles are very high and also getting higher. Our costs have become a barrier for many of us. In many instances, the cost of the treatment and medications themselves are, as characterized by Cost of Care, TOXIC.

Given this situation, the Cost of Care program has created this web site where we, as survivors, can find financial resources that are available to help us deal with our own financial toxic situation. The site also allows us to participate in a survey and registry that helps to better quantify the level and impact of the toxicity that we face.

We need to understand the effect treatment costs have on cancer survivors and their families. We need serious brainpower looking at this problem, especially because the problem continues to grow and become even more critical. We need solutions, solutions that respect the free market system, but also take into account the fact that cancer medication and treatments are not optional for a person with cancer. They are life saving, they are life extending and they directly change a person’s basic quality of life.

The current situation has reached a crisis and it continues to get worse each and every day. We need fair answers to this significant problem now! We need to find ways to protect reasonable pharmaceutical profits so that the companies remain willing to take the inherent risks in drug development and distribution. We also need to find ways to make the financial burden less toxic to the cancer survivor, their family and to society.

As my friend Mike Scott has said, ( participating in the survey and in the registry is something you can do now to help resolve this problem.